Mike Christian, Jr., right, and his wife, Glennette, left, have made Tarkio Assembly of God Church and the community their new home.
The Assembly of God Church in Tarkio is excited to introduce Pastor Mike Christian, Jr., and his wife, Glennette. Starting this past June, the couple have made the church and Tarkio their home, having come from a 14 year pastorship in Alaska.
Born and raised in West Virginia, Mike Christian, Jr. found himself called to the church when an injury ended his chances of playing college football. He had always had a love for the church, being raised Southern Baptist and then later becoming involved in the Assemblies of God. He knew that this was what he was supposed to do and what God wanted him to do.
He’s pastored at many churches over the years, but some of the most memorable have been the last 14 years spent at three different churches in Alaska, in Skagway, Nome, and Metlakatla. Alaska is known for its pristine beauty and the Christians enjoyed being surrounded by lush landscapes and a variety of animals, from 20 eagles nesting in their trees to the meandering bear. In Nome winters (the Iditarod sled dog race ends in Nome), the Christians experienced negative 76 degrees and 385 inches of snow (not counting the drifts that could reach 40 or 50 feet in height). However, it was something Mike and Glennette say they got used to. Mike rarely even wore a coat walking over to the church and Glennette still made it to the school she worked at every day, no matter the weather. This was also a place for Bering Sea gold and some people used gold instead of cash. The last years were spent in Metlakatla with the Tsimshian people. Metlakatla Indian Community is the only Indian reservation in Alaska. Only natives, or those invited, can live there and only natives can own properties on the island. Even visitors to the island had to have passes and could only stay for the time their passes allowed. The only way to reach the island is by ferry or sea plane.
It’s a hard life in Alaska and the Christians found they were much needed there. Deaths were plentiful and even in the first year, the pastors lost 20 people. In different areas they lived, the population could be only around 400 in the winter, but once the summer season came around, so did the tourists and workers and the population could rise to well over 6,000. Mike said that many workers come to Alaska for the high pay, but the weather conditions caused some to get off the plane and then immediately get back on again. Alaska is not for everyone.
Mike and Glennette loved Alaska, but felt it was time to come home. They were accepted into the ministry at Tarkio Assembly of God and moved here this summer. They are now closer to their family members, who live in Maryville, South Dakota, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas. They are loving Tarkio and its citizens. The church parishioners number anywhere from 40-55. It’s a very strong and loving church and the Christians have brought back Sunday evening services as well as children’s ministries.
Be sure to stop by the church sometime and meet the Christians and enjoy the tales of their Alaskan experiences. And the church is always open to new members!